Tuesday, August 5, 2008

COTTONWOOD PASS AND THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

Jackie and Buddy are great hiking companions. Since they will be our neighbors for a week, we have plans for more high country hiking while we are together. Today we drove up Cottonwood Pass to the Continental Divide, then hiked south along the divide on a ridgetop that gave us views into both the east and west drainages. I took, hmmmmmmm....
I don't know how many pictures! Here are those that give the best feel for the glory of the hike and the day - captions are below each photo; double click on any photo to see it in large format (and use your back arrow to return to the blog).

We weren't the only people at the parking lot - a willing photographer took this "tourist shot" before we set out on the trail. Men on the Atlantic side, women on the Pacific.

We were above 12,000 feet for the entire hike, looking across valleys to peaks above
14,000 feet. Before long, we were above treeline, where the meadows were covered with
six-inch tall wildflowers.

We four, in the rocks stacked at the top of the first summit we crested, around 12,500 feet.

Sharp-eyed Jackie spotted this ptarmagin as it moved in the rocks. I took half a dozen photos - in three of them, I couldn't find the bird even though I knew it was there. As we hiked, it ran along the side of the trail just ahead of us, finally angling away. As we stopped to watch, we saw a fluffy chick hop around the rocks not far from mom.

This is what I usually see along the trail: Jackie's back! The woman is phenomenal -
she can out-hike all of us.

This is the view to the west from the Continental Divide. This tiny photo can't do it justice; double click on the photo if you would like to see the larger version.

We kept hiking towards the second, higher summit, watching a dark cloud form and grow in our direction. Just as we crested the summit, the rain began, mixed with small hailstones.
Time to turn back.

As we headed down the final slope to the parking lot (that's Odel in his orange raincoat, with Buddy ahead of him and Jackie out in front), the rain stopped and the sun reappeared. At this high altitude, the sunshine dried our clothes quickly. The winding ribbon you see in the background is the road over the divide, heading down the western side. We hopped in the Jeep and drove a short distance to an overlook with a picnic table and ate our lunch in the sunshine.

I had marked a few geocaches on our GPS, in case we had the energy to search 'em out. One was within a quarter mile of our picnic spot, so off we went. Here are Buddy, Odel, and Jackie searching for the cache...

... and here is the victory shot! Geocaching is new to Jackie and Buddy, but they've taken to it.

As we drove away from the overlook, Jackie and Odel spotted two beautiful bucks on the side of the road. Look at them pose together (double click for a larger photo).

Peaks, lake, hail, sunshine, a geocache, a ptarmagin and this pair...
what more could we ask for from a hike?

3 comments:

  1. I've been an occasional reader for awhile and after seeing today's photos, thought I'd stop and say "hi". Cottonwood Pass is a very familiar place to my husband and I. We lived for two years in the little town of TinCup on down the other side of the pass and beyond Taylor Park. We've made that trip over Cottonwood in every kind of weather, in the middle of the night and with trucks protesting the entire way! That was many, many years ago but still a lot of memories. Our daughter will be out that way visiting in a few days and can't wait. Thanks for the memories - it's just as beautiful as I remember! Someday we'll get back there again.

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  2. I am soooooo soooooo soooooo jealous!! as I sit here at my desk doing accounting-yuck!! I'm going to go buy a lottery ticket today!
    Thanks for the virtual hike- it's beautiful!
    donna

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